Lucent in the Lead for Verizon IMS?
Analysts see the vendor in pole position at Verizon because of its perceived early lead in the IMS technology that promises voice, video, and data services across cellular, WiFi, and wired networks.
"I am almost certain of it... and given recent announcements [Lucent] is in a good position to win it," says Richard Windsor, communications equipment analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc. As Citigroup analyst Alex Henderson recently wrote in a note on the Cingular deal: “Lucent's IMS initiative is further along than we, or anyone else, originally thought, with revenue recognition now likely to occur in the first half of 2006.”
For its part, Verizon has been almost mute (compared to major rivals) about its plans for converging its fixed and mobile networks but is now quietly working behind the scenes to formulate a fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) strategy, according to sources in the industry.
Verizon has remained silent even as its rivals -- Cingular and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) -- have laid out ambitious plans to offer unified services across cellular, cable, and WiFi networks. (See Cingular's Got Big FMC Plans and Cable Firms, Sprint In FMC Deal.)
But sources tell Unstrung that Verizon has been testing gear from two vendors and that both the fixed and mobile arms of the company are involved in the trials. "I heard that they tested some FMC apps with at least one vendor through the summer," says an industry source.
Nobody from Verizon returned calls and emails about the operator's IMS strategy or potential partners.
But why would Lucent have an advantage at Verizon? One industry source says carriers appreciate Lucent's approach to the implementation of a Home Subscriber Server (HSS), one of the core network elements in IMS architecture.
Lucent's HSS, which it calls the Unified Subscriber Data Server, sits at the middle of the carrier's legacy wireless and wireline subscriber databases, and draws subscriber information from all of them. Lucent believes carriers need solutions that allow a step-by-step approach to implementing IMS.
Add this to the fact that Lucent's name and incumbency status gives it pole position with carriers looking to begin the IMS process. This is why Lucent is -- for the moment at least -- the IMS favorite.
Verizon's network architecture is also playing a part in the decision to move to IMS. The CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) network technology used by both the Sprint and Verizon networks tends to force the operators to move full steam ahead to an IMS implementation, because there are few companies out there offering interim FMC solutions that support CDMA.
"It's sort of IMS or nothing," notes one industry source.
Contrast this with GSM (Global System for Mobile) operator Cingular, which is taking smaller steps to IMS by initially implementing a hybrid system that also uses unlicensed mobile access technology, developed by startup Kineto Wireless Inc., that ensures the smooth transition of calls between cellular and WiFi networks.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading, contributed to this report.
For a comprehensive look at how IMS is driving network convergence, check out IMS: Blueprint for an Applications Revolution, to be held at the Langham Hotel in London on December 8, 2005.
Hosted by Graham Finnie, Heavy Reading Senior Analyst, IMS: Blueprint for an Applications Revolution will ensure that attendees understand both the opportunities and threats the IMS revolution presents.
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